• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Magistrates - Explain the role that magistrates play in the criminal justice system

Extracts from this document...


Magistrates (a) Explain the role that magistrates play in the criminal justice system Magistrates are involved with many aspects of the criminal justice system and have lots of jobs to do. Criminal cases where the offence in summary or triable either way are heard by magistrates. Summary would be cases with minor offences such as speeding and drink driving, whilst triable either way are potentially more serious cases such as theft, burglary or ABH. Magistrates will listen to the case presented by the defence and prosecution, decide on the verdict and pass sentence. 3 magistrates will sit on every case. A magistrate has sentencing restrictions and can give a maximum of 6 months prison, �5000 fine or 240 hours community punishment order per offence. A clerk will sit in court with the magistrates and provide legal information for the lay magistrates. A clerk is a paid professional and must have 5 years experience of being a barrister or solicitor to get appointed. A clerk can give legal advice but can't be seen to influence the decision of the magistrates. In the case of R v Eccles a clerk was thought to have influenced the magistrates decision and a successful appeal was launched. ...read more.


There are exemptions for example people with serious previous convictions, undischarged bankrupts and police can't become magistrates. Applicants must show 6 main criteria which are be of good character, have a good level of social awareness, show sound judgement, have a good understanding and communication, show maturity and sound temperament, show commitment and reliability. The Local magistrates advisory committee recommend people for appointment to the Lord Chancellor. A prospective magistrate can be put forward by any person or organisation or put themselves forward. The advisory committee (staffed by magistrates) consider applicants as well as advertising and interviewing prospective magistrates. It is argued that interviewing applicants is not the best way. The reasons for this would be that people from a professional and particularly managerial background would have greater experience of interviews, and therefore a better chance of being successful than someone with a non-professional occupation. This causes most of the magistrates to be from a professional background, which isn't really balanced. The composition of the bench is also affected by the fact that magistrates are not paid (but may receive expenses and compensation for loss of earnings), and must sit at least 26 times a year. Because they don't get paid it would be difficult for someone with a low paid job to be a magistrate. ...read more.


applying to become magistrates. So far it hasn't really worked as intended. In 1992 research from the lord chancellors department show 2% of magistrates were black. This doesn't seem a lot but as there is only a 5% black population it is reasonably balanced. Gender of magistrates is very balance with figures showing 47% female. Magistrates usually retire when they get to 70 unless the get removed earlier through infirmity. Magistrates can be sacked by the lord chancellor without reason if they behave badly. This happened with Kathleen Cripps in 1985 where she was removed when seen demonstrating against poll tax outside the court in which she sat as a magistrate. I think that because of the fact that magistrates are not paid and will have to sit at least 26 times, missing work often it is difficult to attract younger people or working class and manual workers to become magistrates. Because of this it is quite difficult to achieve a balanced bench. The lord chancellors criteria does help to ensure there are all different magistrates from wider reaching backgrounds making the bench more balanced. But sometimes the selction process can be made unfair as a balanced bench is trying to be achieved, where prospective magistrates that are too similar to the type of existing magistrates that they cant get appointed. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

A good answer wholly directed at the question; setting out both how magistrates are appointed and commenting on the make-up of the bench nationally.
Rating *****

Marked by teacher Nick Price 22/03/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Distinguish Criminal law from Civil law in the English Legal System. Outline the jurisdiction ...

    4 star(s)

    Appealing from the crown court to the court of appeal is difficult as the grounds for appeal are narrow and the court of appeal takes a restricted view of its function. The Criminal Appeal Act 1968, as amended by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995, provides the court of appeal shall

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The Police and Criminal Evidence Acts 1984-provides an effective balance between the powers of ...

    3 star(s)

    had been done to the police reputation: The Phillips commission in 1981: This looked at the balance between powers for the police and safe guards for the suspects. However, by the time the report was completed a number of changes had been made in society and the importance of this case had been diminished.

  1. There are four different types of law, criminal, civil, common and statuate. In this ...

    I will then explain to each of them what court their trial will be held in and what will happen at their trial. In Bill and Fred's letter I will also explain to them the roles of the different people within their court hearing.

  2. Is the imposition of strict liability ever justifiable in criminal law?

    The Hong Kong building regulations prohibited deviating from plans in any substantial way, and the defendants were charged with breaching these regulations. The penalty was $250,000 fine, or 3 years imprisonment. On appeal, they put forward the argument that they were not aware the changes they had made were substantial ones.

  1. Criminal Law (Offences against the person) - revision notes

    R v Malcherek & Steel (1981) - Established brain death was the point at which life ended. Cokes definition: 'Within a year and a day' was abolished in 1996 by the Law Reform Year and a Day Rule Act 1996 Causation in Murder cases With the abolition of the year

  2. Was Saxon justice harsh and superstitious?

    However, not all crimes were punished by fines. Some serious crimes carried the death penalty - treason against the king, arson and betraying your lord. Reoffenders were also punished harshly if they were caught. Punishments for regular offenders included mutilation, for example, cutting off a hand, ear or nose or 'putting out' the eyes.

  1. civil law, criminal law and habeas corpus

    protection against arbitrary imprisonment in England and Wales, and other countries whose legal systems have developed from the English, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Habeas corpus is generally not found in civil law systems, although in some cases comparable legislation exists.

  2. Offences against the person act 1861; criticisms and reforms.

    The Government included in the Crime Disorder Bill aggravated offences for racially motivated violence based on the existing offences in the OAPA 1861. The Government proposes to keep a number of offences relating to the police including the offence of assaulting a police officer and assault in resisting arrest.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work